West Windsor, N.J. – In the 1920s, a Tennessee schoolteacher is put on trial for teaching Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Forte Dramatic Productions presents the acclaimed play “Inherit the Wind” at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) Kelsey Theatre. Dates and show times for this powerful drama are Fridays, May 24 and 31 at 8 p.m.; Saturdays, May 25 and June 1 at 8 p.m.; and Sundays, May 26 and June 2 at 2 p.m.
Kelsey Theatre is located on MCCC’s West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. The community is invited to an opening night reception with the cast and crew on May 24.
“Inherit the Wind” is a fictionalized account of the 1925 Scopes "Monkey" Trial. Bertram Cates, a science teacher in the rural town of Hillsboro, Tenn., is arrested and imprisoned for teaching evolution, a violation of the Butler Act, a state law that prohibits public school teachers from teaching evolution in place of creationism. Two of the nation's leading lawyers, who are old adversaries, go head to head as the trial plays out: Matthew Harrison Brady for the prosecution and Henry Drummond for the defense. Heightening the tension is the fact that Cates’ girlfriend, Rachel, is the daughter or the town’s preacher, Rev. Brown. Once Cates reaches out to Baltimore Herald reporter E. K. Hornbeck, this small town drama becomes national news.
First performed in 1955, “Inherit the Wind” is by playwrights Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. A film version starring Spencer Tracy and Fredric March as the attorneys followed in 1960. The story’s theme of freedom over one’s own thoughts and beliefs was a means to discuss the then-contemporary McCarthy trials, while the debate over creationism versus evolution continues to resonate many decades after the play’s initial run.
The cast stars Francois Suhr of Hightstown as Bertram Cates; John Fischer of Hamilton as E. K. Hornbeck; Rick Pine of Yardley, Pa., as Henry Drummond; Bob Thick of Hopewell as Matthew Harrison Brady; Roberta Curless of Lawrenceville as Rachel; and Tom Stevenson of Titusville as Rev. Brown, the town’s preacher.
Other featured actors include Bridget Godfrey and Siobhan Delate, both of Robbinsville, Michael Gilbert of Plainsboro, Alex Hraur of Yardley, Pa., Tim Moran of East Windsor, Kimberly Hess of Upper Holland, Pa., Barney Stone of Lambertville, Tom Bessellieu of Lawrenceville, John Russell of Mercerville, Gail Rose of Princeton Junction, Chris King of Mercerville, Karen Bowden of Lakewood, Jennifer Boutros of Lawrenceville, Jamie Meeker of Princeton, James Zimmerman of Hamilton, Isabella Panfili of Hamilton, Devin Murray of Beverly, and Matthew Zisk of Princeton.
Other townspeople are: Cheryl Barker of Columbus, Amy Bessellieu of Lawrenceville, Pennington residents Kri Burkander, Maggie Burkander, Ollie Burkander, and Paul Burkander, Len Kralik of Hamilton, Maureen Larson of Lawrence, Sean Lonesky of Lawrenceville, Rehema Moke of Newark, Grace Nicosia of Chesterfield, Eric Wisk of Lawrenceville, and Alexandra Zisk of Princeton.
Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $14 students/children. Tickets may be purchased online, or by calling the Kelsey Theatre box office at 609-570-3333, or in person prior to the performance. (The box office opens one hour before the show.) Kelsey Theatre is wheelchair accessible, with free parking available next to the theater.